Nurse practitioner Sigrid Stokes holds a photo of her mother. Kristine Berg Mueller was a 14-year-old hospital volunteer in Norway during the 1918 flu pandemic. (AP/Haven Daley)

Nurse practitioner Sigrid Stokes holds a photo of her mother. Kristine Berg Mueller was a 14-year-old hospital volunteer in Norway during the 1918 flu pandemic. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Stokes gives a healthcare worker a COVID-19 vaccine at the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, California. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Stokes gives a healthcare worker a COVID-19 vaccine at the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, California. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Stokes holds a photograph of her mother talking to actress Shirley Temple. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Stokes holds a photograph of her mother talking to actress Shirley Temple. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Mueller later moved to the United States and became a nurse. (AP/Haven Daley)

Ms. Mueller later moved to the United States and became a nurse. (AP/Haven Daley)

One Family, Two Pandemics

Posted: May 1, 2021

Sigrid Stokes is 76 years old. But she’s not ready to retire. As a nurse practitioner, she has lots of work to do during the coronavirus pandemic. She gets her compassionate gift for nursing from her mom.

Ms. Stokes’ mother was Kristine Berg Mueller. Ms. Mueller tended to sick people during the deadly influenza pandemic that swept around the world in 1918. 

Ms. Mueller grew up in Norway. She was a 14-year-old student when the flu hit. Eventually, that flu killed about 50 million people.

“She and a friend volunteered at the local hospital to help out in whatever way they could. . . .” Ms. Stokes says of her mother. “Feeding people, bathing people, you know, changing beds, whatever they could do.”  

The flu pandemic inspired Ms. Mueller to become a nurse. But her family had no money to send her to nursing school. An aunt in San Francisco, California, agreed to take her in. Ms. Mueller moved to the United States in 1923. She enrolled in a U.S. nursing program four years later.

As Ms. Stokes arrives to work at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in California, she wears earrings she made from a Norwegian necklace. Her mother proudly wore that necklace each day. Her mom died in 1995. But the necklace makes Ms. Stokes feel like they’re working together.

Ms. Stokes is too old to treat COVID-19 patients safely. (The virus generally makes older people more sick than younger ones. So Ms. Stokes tries not to get sick with it.) But she can help by giving vaccinations. “I give very good shots . . . good jabs,” she says with a smile. She skillfully plunges a needle into the arm of a masked healthcare worker. The worker doesn’t even flinch.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. — 1 Peter 4:10